The Brownwood Shipley Do-Nuts location’s opening day promotion seemed to payoff as hundreds of customers began lining up in the early morning hours for a lifetime of free coffee.

As part of a promotion for its grand opening Tuesday, Shipley Do-Nuts offered free coffee for life for its first 200 customers and owner Paul Lai said it made for a busy morning.

“I came here around 12 a.m. and I saw a car already in the parking lot and we didn’t open until 5 a.m.,” Lai said. “It was a very long line, over 100 people I believe, and the line never stopped. It just continued and continued.”

Lai said he got the idea to open a Shipley Do-Nuts franchise in Brownwood, but initially had his eyes on another location. While traveling to establish another store in Abilene, Lai saw noticed a vacancy at the old Long John Silver’s location. Seeing it’s location along a major highway and it’s proximity to Walmart, Lai thought it was the perfect location for a Shipley Do-Nuts.

“I Wanted to open in Abilene, but, coincidentally, I drove by this street,” Lai said. “I saw the Long John’s had closed and had a for sale sign. I thought, I like this location, a lot of cars pass by. I checked on Brownwood and it had a 19,000 population so I thought it was a good site to open it. It’s incredible.”

Headquartered and founded in Houston, Shipley Do-Nuts opened its first location in 1936. More than 80 years later the brand has stores in five states across the southeast and more than 190 locations. Beginning with Lawrence Shipley Sr.’s glazed do-nut recipe, the menu has since expanded to more than 60 items including kolaches. In keeping with the tradition established by Lawrence Shipley Sr., Lai had no qualms in rolling up his sleeves and pounding out the dough for Wednesday’s do-nuts.

“I have been helping the kitchen make the do-nuts because today has been a crazy day. We had to catch up. I have been here all day from 12:30 a.m. until now,” Lai said.

Lai said it took about 6 months to prep the store for its opening day. Even in the late afternoon customers continued streaming in and, for some, trying what is considered a tradition in many parts of Texas for the first time.

“It’s good. It’s clean and they’re friendly. It’s fast and I like it,” said first-time customers Winona Foster, who brought her son Jeremiah for his first experience as well. “They’re good. They’re not too airy or too greasy. It leaves room for more.”